What does exist

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I am worried that writer’s block may already be upon me.  How can this be?  I wonder to myself, since it has only been 5 days, 23 hours, and 18 minutes since I first unveiled this blog.  However, I can tell you immediately what is tripping me up, and that is you.  Yes, I am sorry to say dear readers, but this is the truth.  You see, over the years when I was writing for Almost30 or Breathing Under Water, it was mostly for myself.  Sure, I shared the web address with a few people:  Mostly family members and a few close friends.  But now I am a small fish in a big pond.  Sharing my soul with Facebook all of a sudden seems daunting in so many ways.  Will I be judged for my thoughts and feelings if they are different from your own?  Will I be liked?  And even more importantly than that, will I be understood? 

For me, writing is not about creating characters that do not exist, it is about exploring in the most authentic way possible the truth of what does exist I don’t write fiction (though it is probably my favorite thing to read), I write about myself and my life experiences in the hopes to join people together– To have others say, “I feel that way too.”  Or at the very least to make people laugh, to see things from a perspective that they had never thought of, or hell just to entertain in some way.  I may not write about the “intellectual” if you will (you won’t see many blogs from me on politics, government, or the economy)– I write about the emotional.  Something that all of us possess, whether we are in touch with our emotions or not.  As a social worker I have always been fascinated not with people’s IQ’s, but their EQ’s.  (Emotional Quotient). 

And then all of a sudden I am keenly aware that writing about oneself is like trying to be who you really are deep down inside in middle school– The time in your life when you feel awkward and vulnerable and want so much to be yourself, but feel frozen and terrified.  People can pick you apart just by glancing at you sideways.  Kids back then always seemed to know just what your insecurities were and somehow, find ways to showcase them. Now I am choosing to showcase my own soul, my own insecurities, my own truth.  And it could prove to be a big mistake. I am tempted to pick and choose my words carefully so as not to be mistaken for a poorly taken picture.  Will my words be looked upon as an overexposed photograph would? Will what I am trying to say, the creation of it all, somehow become “washed out?” Alas, I don’t want to be underexposed either.  Nobody wants their words to be overshadowed by anything else, or be looked upon as “muddy.”  And then I remember that both over and under exposure are technical judgements, not artistic ones, and hope that this writing from the heart can be valued by it’s artistic and genuine nature more than anything else. 

I am not writing this post to have you appease me, readers, or to have you soothe what I am already afraid will be an injured soul.  No, as much as I invite you to join in on this journey with me, this is something that I will have to get over myself.  It is not only about writer’s block, nor is it only about being vulnerable.  It’s about following my truth, whether others get it or not.  It’s about following your truth, whether others get it or not.  And this is actually what our own truth really is all about: Getting out of our own way to follow our passions whether we believe we are good enough or not, sticking with something despite the fear, and creating our own success… Not waiting for it to arrive on our doorstep the way we so often hope it will.  And certainly not worrying about judgement based on over or under exposure, but hoping that we will be seen– and embraced– for who we really are.

Facebook Envy

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I feel torn about something, and it’s my love/hate relationship with Facebook.  On the one hand, I love Facebook.  How could I not?  Facebook is how I met my now husband SHL.  We met randomly through a dating application soon after I joined the site; no mutual friends, just a picture of one another, a “click,” a “be my friend,” millions of emails, visits back and forth, and phone calls (he lived in Toronto at the time and I in Boston) and two and a half years later we were married.  It’s a pretty wacky story and just the other night while we made soup for dinner and talked about our day the story of our meeting came up and we did what we do every once in a while:  Look at each other with wide eyes and a crazy grin and think about all of the things that had to happen for us to meet that way.  So that is why, on the one hand, I love Facebook. 

On the other hand (there always is one) is a word that makes most people cringe:  Envy.  We all have it, but I’m going to just put it out there (I promised you in my first post that I was not one of those gals to post status updates like, “My hubby is the best ever, he just brought me flowers and cupcakes and I have the best life, giggle giggle.”  Me:  Vomit).  I know I can’t be the only one to feel badly about myself and my life sometimes when I log onto the site.  Almost every day it feels like one out of my 345 friends (which is a whole other story about the competition to see who can have the most “friends” on Facebook) is doing something amazing.  If somebody isn’t moving to Italy (which just happens to be my dream place to live) then they’re getting promoted at work, they’ve won the lottery, had a baby, bought a house, or had their husband bring them flowers and cupcakes– In the same day of course.  All I’ve probably done is gone to work, maybe done a load of laundry, and if I’m lucky, had dinner while watching TV with my husband after a disastrous day of trying to maintain my composure at work.  See?  Envy.

Granted I know (and you know) that people just want to make themselves look good.  There aren’t many people who will put “My husband’s socks stink” or “my house is falling apart and I don’t have the money to fix it” as their status updates.  So all we see are pictures of the outside of a perfectly beautiful house, perfectly beautiful spouses, and perfectly beautiful kids.  How not to feel badly that I don’t have a house or kids?  (Thank goodness I have the husband or I’d have to log off of Facebook entirely).  Seriously though, Facebook has just become another way to keep up with the Joneses, and I for one feel as though I can’t seem to keep up with anybody– On Facebook anyway. 

This thought then begged a question that I had to ask of myself:  Do I ever promote Facebook envy in anybody else?  Probably not, but the truth is, I don’t write “My job sucks” or “Too bad we can’t afford a house right now” as my status update, either.  I may write that I’m sick of taking public transportation or that I hate the Boston weather or that I’m tired, but generally I am sure that I try to present myself in a somewhat “put together” light as well, sharing wedding and honeymoon pictures, a link to an online article that I was quoted in, or the occasional status update that sends the message that I am married, that I travel, see my girlfriends, and that sometimes, good things happen (case in point: I met my husband on Facebook).  Perhaps, just perhaps, somebody else on Facebook is looking at that and feeling what I feel when I look at them:  A twinge.  And it doesn’t feel good.

I’m not sure that I’m going to do anything differently.  I don’t see myself getting off of Facebook because I enjoy keeping in touch with friends that live far away and that I don’t have the chance to connect with on a daily basis.  I enjoy sometimes posting a status update and getting messages back quickly or a “like” here and there.  I enjoy posting pictures of a trip or of my nephew and of the sharing piece of it.  What I don’t love is feeling as though I’m not good enough because I’m not doing what many, many other 34-year-olds are doing in life.  We don’t have kids.  We don’t have a house.  Both of our careers are in flux at the moment.  So I suppose that it comes down to feeling secure enough with yourself to be able to enjoy other’s good news without feeling as though we all have to be in the exact same place in our lives at the exact same time.  We don’t!  And let’s face it: looks can be deceiving.  Even that “perfect” woman who has time to go to the gym every day and has a wedding ring the size of a rock on her left hand, with her pefect  husband, kids, house, and job, has her bad days.  She gets into fights with her husband.  Her kids vomit all over her.  She gets yelled at her by her boss. Or at the very least her yoga class gets cancelled. 

Things are never perfect, no matter how much people want us to believe that they are.  What I wish is that we could all just be honest with one another and join together to form a camaraderie about how funny/crazy/stressful/maddening the world can be sometimes.  I don’t think I’ll ever find it on Facebook, but maybe I’ll find it here:  After all, I can handle the truth about my imperfect life.  Can you handle the truth about yours?

How I Got Here

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Welcome to You Can Handle The Truth!  I am so thrilled to finally awaken from my “blogging slumber” (just in time for spring!) to bring you this new blog where the focus will be on finding your truth (and mine as well) while fielding questions from you about life, love, work, cancer, dating, relationships, the first year of marriage, and anything else that’s on your mind!

How it all began:  In 2005, 2 years before my 30th birthday, as I began to dread the inevitable (I cried when I turned 22, how would I not cry when this big birthday rolled around?!), I began a blog called “Almost 30.”  It started off with my experiences of living in Manhattan and juggling a new found sense of freedom while mending a broken heart, navigating a stressful job as a social worker in an elementary school in East Harlem, and trying to understand how the relationships all around me were changing while friends got hitched and started having kids.  You were with me as I began dating again and found that life as a single gal in NYC was not quite as Sex & the City as I had hoped.  (Thankfully I had an outlet– writing– for my “you wouldn’t believe it unless you were there” experiences, and we found ways to laugh about all of the horrible dates together).  Soon thereafter, in December of 2005, I was diagnosed with ocular melanoma, and the blog became my journey into the world of cancer, and then soon after, of dating with cancer.  Enter “Breathing Under Water: Letting Go to Find Myself.”  It was there that I asked you to travel with me as I recovered from not just the physical ramifications of cancer, but also the emotional aftermath as well.  You saw me finish my cancer treatment, let go of a past relationship that had haunted me for years, move to Boston, fall in love all over again, and get married.  Now my journey is a different one:  One of a cancer survivor (though that word is over used, maybe together we can find a new title) who still faces the “what if?” when it comes to my health, of not dating but of being a wife (More challenges!  More funny stories!  More dispelling the myth of being “rescued” now that I’m hitched!), and of questioning career choices, when to start a family, and where to live.  HUGE life decisions that I know you are either facing or have faced as well, and I’d like to invite you in on the journey with me. 

The other part of this blog (one part would be just so boring) is going to give me a chance to dispense some wisdom (a.k.a. kick-ass advice, I hope).  It’s not therapy, which is what I do for a living, because in therapy we don’t give our clients advice, we merely try to make connections and help sort thoughts and feelings out into something clear and honest so that clients can make the best life choices for themselves (whatever that means to each individual being).  I know what you’re thinking:  How can somebody who is trying to sort through their own journey help others?  Actually, I am here to say that I think it is those that are actively seeking their own truth who can best help others to find theirs as well.  We are all trying to remain works in progress, not get stuck, and to discover the best in ourselves (and in others).  My goal is to combine my educational, professional, and life experiences together with my keen insight and unique understanding of people to help you continue to find your truth.  I want to hear from you!  Some of the questions that I can tackle will certainly involve love, work, relationships and cancer, but feel free to fire other questions right at me and I will do my best to pass along my wisdom to you!  Think of me as your own personal friend, life coach, and HONEST young woman who is here to relate, help, and remind you to laugh as you struggle, accomplish, and balance whatever it is that life is throwing at you in this moment.

One more thing.  I can’t promise that I will always get it right, but I can promise that it will be honest.  I am NOT one of those people who posts pictures and status updates on Facebook of how perfect my life is!  Sure I have my “glory days” and will share the good, for sure.  However, I am REAL and I will give it to you straight– That I can promise you!

I can’t wait to hear from you!

Cheers,

Samantha